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The final point that I want to make, I am sure hon. Members will be pleased to know, is in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Ceredigion (Mr Williams), who talked about consultation. On Second Reading my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister said that we had not introduced the provisions on combination in the Bill because we wanted to take the time through the summer to work with the Electoral Commission, others in government in the territorial offices and with electoral administrators across the United Kingdom. I have written today to members of the Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform, Opposition spokesmen and others with an interest in the Bill, including Members who spoke on Second Reading or who have tabled amendments, and leaders of parties represented in the devolved Parliament and Assemblies, to set out when we propose to table those amendments and debate them in the House, and to give them an idea
12 Oct 2010 : Column 256
of some of the provisions. I hope that that is helpful-indeed, it was intended to be so. In conclusion, I urge right hon. and hon. Members to resist any amendments that are pressed to a Division, and I urge hon. Members thinking of pressing their amendments not to do so.

Mr MacNeil: To recap the debate, the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) made a very good speech majoring on fairness. He mentioned missing the bus, and it seems to me that the Deputy Prime Minister missed the bus on fairness with his differential treatment of voters. The hon. Gentleman's amendment cites six months; I cite 18 months as a maximum. The point of agreement is that the date must be changed to prevent the differential treatment of voters. He also made a good point about the BBC. Not understanding the voters has been a problem with the media, and with media management and presentation. Only 3% of the BBC output comes from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which constitute 17% of the UK population.

The right hon. Member for Tooting (Sadiq Khan), an apostle of AV, naturally supports AV, but he does not support the date. I look forward to seeing him in the Lobby, and I am sure that narrow party political considerations will not prevent him from voting. The hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr Leigh), a fair and progressive person if ever there were one, made a good speech. His arguments were on the issues, not on side calculations for party political gain. The hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife (Thomas Docherty) repeated the point that the devolved Governments were not consulted and that there will be differential treatment across the UK. He argued that the referendum should be held in September-I am not against that at all; the point of agreement is that there should be a different date from 5 May.

The hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mrs Laing) made some excellent arguments. What can I say about her Gaelic pronunciation, other than that I expect to see her at the Mòd in Thurso by the end of the week, doubtless singing a Gaelic song? For Members who do not know what the Mòd is, it shows that we are more than two nations in one state. The hon. Lady said that she might need to examine her conscience. I would be more than happy to help her do so in the Lobby very shortly.

The hon. Member for Belfast East (Naomi Long) illustrated our veritable rainbow coalition against 5 May. She made practical points about congestion on election day at polling stations, which were underlined by the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr Donaldson) and by the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon). The hon. Member for Belfast East made a cracking, quick-fire factual speech, and she also hit on the difficulties with the media and with Royal Mail. I only wish she had spoken to the absent Deputy Prime Minister before he landed the hon. Member for Epping Forest in it. [ Interruption. ] She wrote to him, she says from a sedentary position. She also mentioned the opportunity for cross-party co-operation that has been lost in the north of Ireland. I imagine that outside Scotland cross-party co-operation is more needed, including in Northern Ireland.

I am sure that the fire in the hon. Lady's belly had nothing to do with the fact that the Faroe Islands have drawn with Northern Ireland. Perhaps this is a good point at which to mention that I am chairman of the
12 Oct 2010 : Column 257
all-party Faroe Islands group, which will hold a meeting before the end of the month-everyone is welcome. [ Interruption. ] I hope there will not be a differential turnout. Despite the Faroe result, Scotland are drawing 2-2 with Spain at the moment. [ Interruption. ] Not very united at the moment, eh?

The hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) called for a level playing field, and he highlighted the difference between an election for a national Parliament, one for local councils, and no elections at all in the UK. He discussed his relationship with the leader of the Liberal Democrat party. The rest of us are not sure of any relationship at all, and might not even be able to pick him out in an identity parade. [ Interruption. ] The hon. Member for South Antrim (Dr McCrea), a renowned political tipster if ever there was, says that the hon. Gentleman is at the zenith of his political career-I am not sure what he means.

The hon. Member for Glasgow South West (Mr Davidson) told us of the reservations of Members of the Scottish Parliament; 5 May was on their timetable first, but it was ignored. My amendment allows 546 other days at least; of course there will be some days that we will wish to subtract. He supported an AV referendum, but he did not want it to be a democratic spoiler for Holyrood. He said that this was a deal between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories in support of Tory cuts. I put it to him that he prefers Tory cuts to independence for Scotland.

Eventually, after three hours we had someone supporting the Government. The hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles) spoke about jobs, and I can relate again that the hon. Member for South Antrim was tipping him for promotion. I was expecting a Spectator award for him later in the year, but unfortunately he just kept talking and that seemed to slip from his grasp. He was given a good jolt of reality by the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker).

The right hon. Member for Belfast North (Mr Dodds) highlighted the fact that the majority of the speakers came from the devolved nations and regions of the UK. The hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr Williams) conceded that the referendum was not ideal, but it was what was on offer. I would ask him to stick to his principles. But to be fair to him, he was one of the few Lib Dems on the big Lib Dem issue in the Chamber. I was counting, and only 3% of the Lib Dem party turned up for the main part of the debate on their big, big issue.

The hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) talked of the premature calculation of a political novice, namely the Deputy Prime Minister. He said that the Deputy Prime Minister was in thrall to 5 May. He pointed out that the public can cope with different elections on the same day, but it is the media, the political system and even the Electoral Commission that struggle. He worried about the Tories turning up in Northern Ireland. In Scotland, they are like the corncrake, almost a protected species.

In a great contribution, my hon. Friend the Member for Arfon (Hywel Williams) said that there were many reasons against 5 May, and that is what the Chamber heard tonight. There are many reasons against 5 May, and there is nothing for 5 May other than a tawdry deal between the governing parties. The hon. Member for
12 Oct 2010 : Column 258
Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer) brought humour to the debate and illuminated internal Labour party thinking: vote for a referendum because the Lords will overturn it. He is supporting a change from 5 May, and I will welcome that.

The respect agenda should be alive and if it was, 5 May would not be happening. The Minister is a reasonable man and he batted heroically on a very sticky wicket. He personifies in the Chamber the maxim that one can disagree with a person's argument but still respect the person. This is not a veto. This is only on one issue. One must have respect for the other legislatures in the UK and they themselves will be consulted on this one issue once. If one opposes this it makes the assumption that the Members of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Irish Assembly are unreasonable people.

I should not have to press the amendment to a vote. The Government should accept the arguments of all parties on both sides about the differential treatment of electors and the unfairness of this in the UK, but unfortunately I will have to do so.

Question put, That the amendment be made.


The Committee divided: Ayes 28, Noes 323.
Division No. 66]
[9.43 pm



AYES


Bone, Mr Peter
Campbell, Mr Gregory
Chope, Mr Christopher
Davies, Philip
Dodds, rh Mr Nigel
Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.
Durkan, Mark
Hollobone, Mr Philip
Hosie, Stewart
Jenkin, Mr Bernard
Lewis, Dr Julian
Llwyd, Mr Elfyn
Long, Naomi
Lucas, Caroline
MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan
McCrea, Dr William
McDonnell, Dr Alasdair
Owen, Albert
Reckless, Mark
Redwood, rh Mr John
Ritchie, Ms Margaret
Robertson, Angus
Shannon, Jim
Shepherd, Mr Richard
Simpson, David
Skinner, Mr Dennis
Weir, Mr Mike
Whiteford, Dr Eilidh
Tellers for the Ayes:

Hywel Williams and
Pete Wishart
NOES


Adams, Nigel
Aldous, Peter
Alexander, rh Danny
Amess, Mr David
Andrew, Stuart
Arbuthnot, rh Mr James
Bacon, Mr Richard
Bagshawe, Ms Louise
Baker, Norman
Baker, Steve
Baldry, Tony
Baldwin, Harriett
Barclay, Stephen
Barker, Gregory
Barwell, Gavin
Bebb, Guto
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr Henry
Benyon, Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Jake
Bingham, Andrew
Birtwistle, Gordon
Blackman, Bob
Blackwood, Nicola
Blunt, Mr Crispin
Boles, Nick
Bottomley, Peter
Bradley, Karen
Brake, Tom
Bray, Angie
Brazier, Mr Julian
Brine, Mr Steve
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr Jeremy
Bruce, Fiona
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Buckland, Mr Robert
Burley, Mr Aidan
Burns, Conor
Burns, Mr Simon
Burrowes, Mr David
Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Cable, rh Vince
Cairns, Alun
Cameron, rh Mr David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr Alistair
Carmichael, Neil
Carswell, Mr Douglas
Chishti, Rehman
Clappison, Mr James
Clark, rh Greg
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Clegg, rh Mr Nick
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Coffey, Dr Thérèse
Collins, Damian
Colvile, Oliver
Crockart, Mike
Crouch, Tracey
Davey, Mr Edward
Davies, David T. C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Glyn
Davis, rh Mr David
de Bois, Nick
Dinenage, Caroline
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen
Dorries, Nadine
Doyle-Price, Jackie
Drax, Richard
Duncan, rh Mr Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain
Dunne, Mr Philip
Ellis, Michael
Ellison, Jane
Ellwood, Mr Tobias
Elphicke, Charlie
Eustice, George
Evans, Graham
Evans, Jonathan
Evennett, Mr David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Mr Don
Fox, rh Dr Liam
Francois, rh Mr Mark
Freeman, George
Freer, Mike
Fullbrook, Lorraine
Fuller, Richard
Garnier, Mr Edward
Garnier, Mark
Gauke, Mr David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr Nick
Gilbert, Stephen
Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl
Glen, John
Goldsmith, Zac
Goodwill, Mr Robert
Gove, rh Michael
Graham, Richard
Grant, Mrs Helen
Grayling, rh Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Griffiths, Andrew
Gummer, Ben
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Halfon, Robert
Hames, Duncan
Hammond, rh Mr Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Matthew
Hancock, Mr Mike
Hands, Greg
Harper, Mr Mark
Harrington, Richard
Harris, Rebecca
Hart, Simon
Harvey, Nick
Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan
Hayes, Mr John
Heald, Mr Oliver
Heath, Mr David
Heaton-Harris, Chris
Hemming, John
Henderson, Gordon
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, rh Nick
Hinds, Damian
Hoban, Mr Mark
Hollingbery, George
Holloway, Mr Adam
Hopkins, Kris
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, Mr Gerald
Howell, John
Hughes, Simon
Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Huppert, Dr Julian
Hurd, Mr Nick
Jackson, Mr Stewart
James, Margot
Javid, Sajid
Johnson, Gareth
Johnson, Joseph
Jones, Andrew
Jones, Mr David
Jones, Mr Marcus
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kelly, Chris
Kennedy, rh Mr Charles
Kirby, Simon
Knight, rh Mr Greg
Kwarteng, Kwasi
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mark
Lansley, rh Mr Andrew
Latham, Pauline
Laws, rh Mr David
Leadsom, Andrea
Lee, Jessica
Lee, Dr Phillip
Leech, Mr John
Lefroy, Jeremy
Leslie, Charlotte
Letwin, rh Mr Oliver
Lewis, Brandon
Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian
Lidington, Mr David
Lloyd, Stephen
Lord, Jonathan
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lumley, Karen
Main, Mrs Anne
Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa
Maynard, Paul
McCartney, Jason
McCartney, Karl
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick
McVey, Esther
Menzies, Mark
Mercer, Patrick
Metcalfe, Stephen
Miller, Maria
Mills, Nigel
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew
Moore, rh Michael
Mordaunt, Penny
Morgan, Nicky
Morris, Anne Marie
Morris, David
Morris, James
Mosley, Stephen
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, rh David
Munt, Tessa
Murray, Sheryll
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr Brooks
Newton, Sarah
Nokes, Caroline
Norman, Jesse
Nuttall, Mr David
O'Brien, Mr Stephen
Offord, Mr Matthew
Ollerenshaw, Eric
Opperman, Guy
Osborne, rh Mr George
Paice, Mr James
Parish, Neil
Patel, Priti
Paterson, rh Mr Owen
Pawsey, Mark
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Percy, Andrew
Perry, Claire
Phillips, Stephen
Pickles, rh Mr Eric
Pincher, Christopher
Poulter, Dr Daniel
Prisk, Mr Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Raab, Mr Dominic
Randall, rh Mr John
Reevell, Simon
Reid, Mr Alan
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr Laurence
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rudd, Amber
Ruffley, Mr David
Russell, Bob
Rutley, David
Sanders, Mr Adrian
Sandys, Laura
Scott, Mr Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, rh Grant
Sharma, Alok
Shelbrooke, Alec
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr Keith
Skidmore, Chris
Smith, Miss Chloe
Smith, Henry
Smith, Julian
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Nicholas
Soubry, Anna
Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline
Spencer, Mr Mark
Stanley, rh Sir John
Stephenson, Andrew
Stevenson, John
Stewart, Bob
Stewart, Iain
Stewart, Rory
Streeter, Mr Gary
Stride, Mel
Stuart, Mr Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Sturdy, Julian
Swales, Ian
Swayne, Mr Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr Hugo
Syms, Mr Robert
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Timpson, Mr Edward
Tomlinson, Justin
Tredinnick, David
Truss, Elizabeth
Turner, Mr Andrew
Uppal, Paul
Vaizey, Mr Edward
Vara, Mr Shailesh
Vickers, Martin
Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa
Walker, Mr Robin
Wallace, Mr Ben
Walter, Mr Robert
Ward, Mr David
Watkinson, Angela
Weatherley, Mike
Webb, Steve
Wharton, James
White, Chris
Whittaker, Craig
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, rh Mr David
Williams, Mr Mark
Williams, Roger
Williams, Stephen
Williamson, Gavin
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr Rob
Wollaston, Dr Sarah
Wright, Jeremy
Wright, Simon
Yeo, Mr Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Zahawi, Nadhim
Tellers for the Noes:

Stephen Crabb and
James Duddridge
Q uestion accordingly negatived.



Amendment proposed: 4, page 1, line 6, leave out 'must be held on 5 May 2011' and insert-

'(None) 'shall be held on a date specified in an order made by the Minister, provided that such date-

(a) shall not coincide with any poll or polls held for any parliamentary assembly or regularly held local government election; and

(b) shall be at least six months after the commencement of the referendum period (as specified in Schedule 1).'.- (Mr Jenkin.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.


The Committee divided: Ayes 264, Noes 326.
Division No. 67]
[9.57 pm



AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob
Alexander, rh Mr Douglas
Alexander, Heidi
Ali, Rushanara
Anderson, Mr David
Austin, Ian
Bailey, Mr Adrian
Bain, Mr William
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barron, rh Mr Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr Joe
Berger, Luciana
Betts, Mr Clive
Blackman-Woods, Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blenkinsop, Tom
Blomfield, Paul
Bone, Mr Peter
Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr Nicholas
Brown, Mr Russell
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, rh Andy
Byrne, rh Mr Liam
Campbell, Mr Alan
Campbell, Mr Gregory
Campbell, Mr Ronnie
Cash, Mr William
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Mrs Jenny
Chope, Mr Christopher
Clark, Katy
Clarke, rh Mr Tom
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Crausby, Mr David
Creagh, Mary
Creasy, Stella
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John
Cunningham, Alex
Cunningham, Mr Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curran, Margaret
Dakin, Nic
Danczuk, Simon
Darling, rh Mr Alistair
David, Mr Wayne
Davidson, Mr Ian
Davies, Geraint
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh Mr David
De Piero, Gloria
Denham, rh Mr John
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Docherty, Thomas
Dodds, rh Mr Nigel
Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.
Donohoe, Mr Brian H.
Doran, Mr Frank
Dowd, Jim
Doyle, Gemma
Dromey, Jack
Dugher, Michael
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Ms Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Elliott, Julie
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Engel, Natascha
Esterson, Bill
Evans, Chris
Farrelly, Paul
Flello, Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Fovargue, Yvonne
Francis, Dr Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gilmore, Sheila
Glindon, Mrs Mary
Godsiff, Mr Roger
Goggins, rh Paul
Goodman, Helen
Greatrex, Tom
Green, Kate
Greenwood, Lilian
Griffith, Nia
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr Peter
Hamilton, Mr David
Hamilton, Mr Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Havard, Mr Dai
Healey, rh John
Hepburn, Mr Stephen
Heyes, David
Hillier, Meg
Hilling, Julie
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs Sharon
Hollobone, Mr Philip
Hopkins, Kelvin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, rh Mr George
Hunt, Tristram
Illsley, Mr Eric
James, Mrs Siân C.
Jamieson, Cathy
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Diana R.
Jones, Graham
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr Kevan
Jones, Susan Elan
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Kendall, Liz
Khan, rh Sadiq
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lammy, rh Mr David
Lavery, Ian
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leslie, Chris
Lewis, Mr Ivan
Lewis, Dr Julian
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Mr Elfyn
Long, Naomi
Love, Mr Andrew
Lucas, Caroline
Lucas, Ian
MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan
MacShane, rh Mr Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Shabana
Mann, John
Marsden, Mr Gordon
McCann, Mr Michael
McCarthy, Kerry
McClymont, Gregg
McCrea, Dr William
McDonnell, Dr Alasdair
McFadden, rh Mr Pat
McGovern, Alison
McGovern, Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs Anne
McKechin, Ann
McKinnell, Catherine
Meacher, rh Mr Michael
Mearns, Ian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moon, Mrs Madeleine
Morden, Jessica
Morrice, Graeme
Morris, Grahame M.
Munn, Meg
Murphy, rh Mr Jim
Murphy, rh Paul
Murray, Ian
Nandy, Lisa
Nash, Pamela
O'Donnell, Fiona
Onwurah, Chi
Osborne, Sandra
Ottaway, Richard
Owen, Albert
Pearce, Teresa
Perkins, Toby
Phillipson, Bridget
Qureshi, Yasmin
Raynsford, rh Mr Nick
Reckless, Mark
Redwood, rh Mr John
Reeves, Rachel
Reynolds, Emma
Reynolds, Jonathan
Riordan, Mrs Linda
Ritchie, Ms Margaret
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr Geoffrey
Rotheram, Steve
Roy, Mr Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, rh Joan
Sarwar, Anas
Seabeck, Alison
Shannon, Jim
Sharma, Mr Virendra
Sheerman, Mr Barry
Shepherd, Mr Richard
Sheridan, Jim
Shuker, Gavin
Simpson, David
Skinner, Mr Dennis
Slaughter, Mr Andy
Smith, rh Mr Andrew
Smith, Angela (Penistone and Stocksbridge)
Smith, Nick
Smith, Owen
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr John
Straw, rh Mr Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry
Tami, Mark
Thomas, Mr Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Stephen
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Karl
Twigg, Derek
Twigg, Stephen
Umunna, Mr Chuka
Vaz, rh Keith
Vaz, Valerie
Walley, Joan
Watson, Mr Tom
Watts, Mr Dave
Weir, Mr Mike
Whiteford, Dr Eilidh
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Woodcock, John
Woodward, rh Mr Shaun
Woolas, Mr Phil
Wright, David
Wright, Mr Iain
Tellers for the Ayes:

Stephen Pound and
Mr Bernard Jenkin
NOES


Adams, Nigel
Aldous, Peter
Alexander, rh Danny
Amess, Mr David
Andrew, Stuart
Arbuthnot, rh Mr James
Bacon, Mr Richard
Bagshawe, Ms Louise
Baker, Norman
Baker, Steve
Baldry, Tony
Baldwin, Harriett
Barclay, Stephen
Barker, Gregory
Barwell, Gavin
Bebb, Guto
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr Henry
Benyon, Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Jake
Bingham, Andrew
Birtwistle, Gordon
Blackman, Bob
Blackwood, Nicola
Blunt, Mr Crispin
Boles, Nick
Bottomley, Peter
Bradley, Karen
Brake, Tom
Bray, Angie
Brazier, Mr Julian
Brine, Mr Steve
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr Jeremy
Bruce, Fiona
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Buckland, Mr Robert
Burley, Mr Aidan
Burns, Conor
Burns, Mr Simon
Burrowes, Mr David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Cable, rh Vince
Cairns, Alun
Cameron, rh Mr David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr Alistair
Carmichael, Neil
Carswell, Mr Douglas
Chishti, Rehman
Clappison, Mr James
Clark, rh Greg
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Clegg, rh Mr Nick
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Coffey, Dr Thérèse
Collins, Damian
Colvile, Oliver
Crabb, Stephen
Crockart, Mike
Crouch, Tracey
Davey, Mr Edward
Davies, David T. C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Glyn
de Bois, Nick
Dinenage, Caroline
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen
Dorries, Nadine
Doyle-Price, Jackie
Drax, Richard
Duncan, rh Mr Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain
Dunne, Mr Philip
Ellis, Michael
Ellison, Jane
Ellwood, Mr Tobias
Elphicke, Charlie
Eustice, George
Evans, Graham
Evans, Jonathan
Evennett, Mr David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, rh Mr Frank
Foster, Mr Don
Fox, rh Dr Liam
Francois, rh Mr Mark
Freeman, George
Freer, Mike
Fullbrook, Lorraine
Fuller, Richard
Garnier, Mr Edward
Garnier, Mark
Gauke, Mr David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr Nick
Gilbert, Stephen
Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl
Glen, John
Goldsmith, Zac
Goodwill, Mr Robert
Gove, rh Michael
Graham, Richard
Grant, Mrs Helen
Gray, Mr James
Grayling, rh Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Griffiths, Andrew
Gummer, Ben
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Halfon, Robert
Hames, Duncan
Hammond, rh Mr Philip
Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew
Hancock, Mr Mike
Hands, Greg
Harper, Mr Mark
Harrington, Richard
Harris, Rebecca
Hart, Simon
Harvey, Nick
Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan
Hayes, Mr John
Heald, Mr Oliver
Heath, Mr David
Heaton-Harris, Chris
Hemming, John
Henderson, Gordon
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, rh Nick
Hinds, Damian
Hoban, Mr Mark
Hollingbery, George
Holloway, Mr Adam
Hopkins, Kris
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, Mr Gerald
Howell, John
Hughes, Simon
Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy
Huppert, Dr Julian
Hurd, Mr Nick
Jackson, Mr Stewart
James, Margot
Javid, Sajid
Johnson, Gareth
Johnson, Joseph
Jones, Andrew
Jones, Mr David
Jones, Mr Marcus
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kelly, Chris
Kennedy, rh Mr Charles
Kirby, Simon
Knight, rh Mr Greg
Kwarteng, Kwasi
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mark
Lansley, rh Mr Andrew
Latham, Pauline
Laws, rh Mr David
Leadsom, Andrea
Lee, Jessica
Lee, Dr Phillip
Leech, Mr John
Lefroy, Jeremy
Leslie, Charlotte
Letwin, rh Mr Oliver
Lewis, Brandon
Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian
Lidington, Mr David
Lloyd, Stephen
Lord, Jonathan
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lumley, Karen
Macleod, Mary
Main, Mrs Anne
Maude, rh Mr Francis
May, rh Mrs Theresa
Maynard, Paul
McCartney, Jason
McCartney, Karl
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick
McVey, Esther
Menzies, Mark
Mercer, Patrick
Metcalfe, Stephen
Miller, Maria
Mills, Nigel
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew
Moore, rh Michael
Mordaunt, Penny
Morgan, Nicky
Morris, Anne Marie
Morris, David
Morris, James
Mosley, Stephen
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, rh David
Munt, Tessa
Murray, Sheryll
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr Brooks
Newton, Sarah
Nokes, Caroline
Norman, Jesse
Nuttall, Mr David
O'Brien, Mr Stephen
Offord, Mr Matthew
Ollerenshaw, Eric
Opperman, Guy
Osborne, rh Mr George
Paice, Mr James
Parish, Neil
Patel, Priti
Paterson, rh Mr Owen
Pawsey, Mark
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Percy, Andrew
Perry, Claire
Phillips, Stephen
Pickles, rh Mr Eric
Pincher, Christopher
Poulter, Dr Daniel
Prisk, Mr Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Raab, Mr Dominic
Randall, rh Mr John
Reevell, Simon
Reid, Mr Alan
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr Laurence
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rudd, Amber
Ruffley, Mr David
Russell, Bob
Rutley, David
Sanders, Mr Adrian
Sandys, Laura
Scott, Mr Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, rh Grant
Sharma, Alok
Shelbrooke, Alec
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr Keith
Skidmore, Chris
Smith, Miss Chloe
Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Nicholas
Soubry, Anna
Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline
Spencer, Mr Mark
Stanley, rh Sir John
Stephenson, Andrew
Stevenson, John
Stewart, Bob
Stewart, Iain
Stewart, Rory
Streeter, Mr Gary
Stride, Mel
Stuart, Mr Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Sturdy, Julian
Swales, Ian
Swayne, Mr Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr Hugo
Syms, Mr Robert
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Timpson, Mr Edward
Tomlinson, Justin
Tredinnick, David
Truss, Elizabeth
Turner, Mr Andrew
Tyrie, Mr Andrew
Uppal, Paul
Vaizey, Mr Edward
Vara, Mr Shailesh
Vickers, Martin
Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa
Walker, Mr Robin
Wallace, Mr Ben
Walter, Mr Robert
Ward, Mr David
Watkinson, Angela
Weatherley, Mike
Webb, Steve
Wharton, James
White, Chris
Whittaker, Craig
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, rh Mr David
Williams, Mr Mark
Williams, Roger
Williams, Stephen
Williamson, Gavin
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr Rob
Wollaston, Dr Sarah
Wright, Jeremy
Wright, Simon
Yeo, Mr Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Zahawi, Nadhim
Tellers for the Noes:

James Duddridge and
Mark Hunter
Question accordingly negatived.
12 Oct 2010 : Column 262

12 Oct 2010 : Column 263

12 Oct 2010 : Column 264

12 Oct 2010 : Column 265

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): I beg to move amendment 7, page 1, leave out from line 7 to end of line 4 on page 2 and insert-

'(3) The questions that are to appear on the ballot paper are-

"(1) Do you want to change the current "first past the post" system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?

(2) If there were a change, list your order of preference, 1, 2, 3, for the United Kingdom to adopt:

(a) The 'alternative vote' system,

(b) The 'additional member' system, or

(c) The 'single transferable vote' system with multi-member constituencies?".

(4) In Wales, a Welsh version of the question is also to appear on the ballot papers.

(5) The voting for the second question in the referendum shall be in accordance with section ( Counting of votes on second question of referendum).'.

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dawn Primarolo): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendment 230.

Amendment 140, page 1, leave out lines 8 to 11 and insert-

'Rank your preference for the system for electing members to the House of Commons (a) Alternative Vote (b) First Past The Post (c) The Single Transferable Vote.'.

Amendment 204, page 1, line 9, after ' vote', insert ' plus'.

Government amendment 231.

Amendment 141, page 2, line leave out lines 1 to 4 and insert-

'Graddiwch pa gyfundrefn o ethol aelodau i Ty'r Cyffredin sydd well gennych chi. (a) Pleidlais Amgen (b) Cyntaf i'r Felin (c) Pleidlais Sengl Drosglwyddadwy.'.


12 Oct 2010 : Column 266

Amendment 205, page 2, line 2, after ' amgen', insert ' plws'.

Amendment 142, page 2, line 4, at end insert-

'(4) In Scotland, the following Gaelic version of the question is also on ballot papers-

Rangaich do roghainn a thaobh an t-siostaim taghaidh buill gu Taigh nan Cumantan? (a) Bhòt Eadar-roghnach (b) A'Chiad Bhuannaiche (c) Bhòt Mhalairteach Shingilte.'.

Amendment 14, in schedule 1, page 15, line 30 leave out

'in favour of each answer to the question'

and insert

'in answer to the questions'.

Amendment 15, page 19, line 24, leave out 'question' and insert 'questions'.

Amendment 16, in schedule 2, page 26, line 39, leave out 'question' and insert 'questions'.

Amendment 17, line 17, leave out 'answer' and insert 'answers'.

Amendment 18, page 32, line 16, after 'only', insert

'in relation to each question'.

Amendment 19, page 47, line 22, leave out 'to the referendum question' and insert

'either or both of the referendum questions'.

Amendment 143, page 54, leave out lines 7 to 16 and insert

'In England the ballot shall be as follows:

    Front of ballot paper

    Rank your preference for the system for electing members to the House of Commons Please rank in order of preference (1,2,3) You must mark at least one number on the ballot

    Alternative Vote

    First Past the Post

    Single Transferable Vote


In Wales, the ballot paper shall be as follows:

    Front of ballot paper

    Graddiwch pa gyfundrefn o ethol aelodau i Ty'r Cyffredin sydd well gennych chi

    Rhowch pa gynfundrefn sydd well gennych chi yn ôl trefn blaenoriaeth (1,2,3) Rhaid i chi farcio o leiaf un rhif ar y papur pleidleisio.

    Rank your preference for the system for electing members to the House of Commons Please Rank in order of preference (1,2,3) You must mark at least one number on the ballot.

    Pleidlais Amgen/ Alternative Vote

    Cyntaf i'r Felin/ First Past the Post

    Pleidlais Sengl Drosglwyddadwy/ Single Transferable Vote



12 Oct 2010 : Column 267

In Scotland, the ballot paper shall be as follows:

    Front of ballot paper

    Rangaich do roghainn a thaobh an t-siostaim taghaidh buill gu Taigh nan Cumantan Rangaich iad a rèir do roghainn (1,2,3) Feumaidh tu co-dhiù aon àireamh a chomharrachadh sa bhaileat. Rank your preference for the system for electing members to the House of Commons Please Rank in order of preference (1,2,3) You must mark at least one number on the ballot.

    Bhòt Eadar-rognach/ Alternative Vote

    A'Chiad Bhuannaiche/ First Past the Post

    Bhòt Mhalairteach Shinglite/ Single Transferable Vote


Amendment 20, page 54, leave out lines 9 to 16 and insert-

    Vote (X) once for question 1

    1. Do you want to change the current "first past the post" system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons

    Yes

    No

    Then list your preference for what new system might be adopted by numbering 1, 2, 3 for question 2

    2. If there was a change do you want the United Kingdom to adopt:

    (a) The "alternative vote" system or

    (b) The "additional member system" or

    (c) The "single transferable vote" system with three member constituencies?'.


Government amendment 232.

Amendment 223, page 54, line 12, after 'vote', insert 'plus'.

Amendment 21, page 55, leave out line 3.

Amendment 22, page 55, line 4, leave out 'question' and insert 'questions'.

Amendment 23, page 55, line 5, leave out 'question' and insert' questions'.

Amendment 24, page 55, leave out line 20.

Amendment 25, page 55, line 25, leave out 'question' and insert 'questions'.

Amendment 26, page 55, line 26, leave out 'question' and insert 'questions'.

Amendment 27, page 55, line 27, leave out 'question' and insert 'questions'.

Amendment 28, page 55, line 32, leave out 'question' and insert 'questions'.

Amendment 46, page 57, line 15,after 'only', insert

'in relation to question 1, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.
12 Oct 2010 : Column 268

Amendment 47, page 57, line 18, leave out 'you are voting for' and insert

'to question 1 you are voting for, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.

Amendment 48, page 58, line 32, after 'only' insert

'in relation to question 1, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.

Amendment 49, page 59, line 2, leave out 'you are voting for' and insert

Amendment 50, page 60, line 6, leave out 'you are voting for' and insert

'to question 1 you are voting for, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.

Amendment 51, page 60, line 7 after 'only' insert

'in relation to question 1, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.

Amendment 52, page 63, line 15, leave out 'you are voting for' and insert

'to question 1 you are voting for, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.

Amendment 53, page 63, line 17, after 'only', insert

'in relation to question 1, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.

Amendment 54, page 67, line 5, leave out 'you are voting for' and insert

'to question 1 you are voting for, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.

Amendment 55, page 67, line 9, after 'only', insert

'in relation to question 1, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.

Amendment 56, page 73, line 5, leave out 'you are voting for' and insert

'to question 1 you are voting for, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.

Amendment 57, page 73, line 7, after 'only' insert

'in relation to question 1, and indicate your preferences in relation to question 2'.

Amendment 144, in clause 6, page 4, leave out lines 27 and 28 and insert-

'(a) the answer "alternative vote" is selected in the referendum, and'.

Amendment 8, page 4, line 28, after '"No"', insert

'to Question 1, and the alternative vote system is selected in response to question 2 in the referendum'.

Amendment 9, page 4, line 32, at end insert-

'(1A) The Minister must make an order bringing into force section ( The single transferable vote system: amendments) if-

(a) the single transferable vote system is selected in response to question 2 of the referendum, and

(b) the draft of an Order in Council laid before Parliament under subsection (5A) of section 3 of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (substituted by section 8(6) below) which provides for multi-member constituencies, in accordance with subsection (4) of section 3 of that Act as amended by section 8(5A) below, has been submitted to Her Majesty in Council under section 4 of that Act.

(1B) The Minister must make an order bringing into force section (The additional member system: amendments) if-

(a) the single transferable vote system is selected in response to question 2 of the referendum, and


12 Oct 2010 : Column 269

(b) the draft of an Order in Council laid before Parliament under subsection (5A) of section 3 of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (substituted by section 8(6) below) which provides for the additional member system, in accordance with subsection (4) of section 3 of that Act as amended by section 8(5A) below, has been submitted to Her Majesty in Council under section 4 of that Act.'.

Amendment 145, page 4, line 33, leave out from 'if' to second 'the' in line 34 and insert

'the answer "alternative vote" is not selected in the referendum'.

Amendment 10, page 4, line 34, leave out from '"No"' to end and insert

'to Question 1, the Minister must make an order repealing the alternative vote provisions and section ( The single transferable vote system: amendments) and section ( The additional member system: amendments).'.

Amendment 11, page 4, line 39, leave out 'subsection (1)' and insert 'subsections (1), (1A) or (1B)'.

Amendment 206, in clause 7, page 5, leave out lines 2 to 11 and insert-

'How constituency votes are to be given

37A (1) A voter votes by marking a constituency ballot paper and a top-up ballot paper.

(2) A voter marks the constituency ballot paper with-

(a) the number 1 opposite the name of the candidate who is the voter's first preference (or, as the case may be, the only candidate for whom the voter wishes to vote),

(b) if the voter wishes, the number 2 opposite the name of the candidate who is the voter's second preference,

and so on.

(3) The voter may mark as many preferences (up to the number of candidates) as the voter wishes.

(4) A voter marks the top-up ballot paper with a mark opposite a single political party list of candidates.'.

Amendment 207, page 5, line 13, after ' How', insert ' constituency'.

Amendment 208, page 5, line 16, leave out

'ballot papers and so to determine which candidate is elected'

and insert

'constituency ballot papers and so determine which constituency candidate is elected, and how top-up votes are to be counted and so determine the allocation of top-up seats to political parties.'.

Amendment 209, page 5, line 34, at end insert-

'(5A) Top-up ballots shall be counted simultaneously'.

Amendment 210, page 5, line 36, after 'no', insert 'constituency'.

Amendment 211, page 5, line 40, after 'each', insert 'constituency'.

Amendment 212, page 5, line 42, after 'which', insert 'constituency'.

Amendment 213, page 5, line 43, after 'rejected', insert 'constituency'.

Amendment 214, page 6, line 5, after 'each', insert 'constituency'.

Amendment 215, page 6, line 7, after 'which', insert 'constituency'.

Amendment 216, page 6, line 8, after 'the', insert 'constituency'.

Amendment 217, page 6, line 9, at end insert-

'(2A) After rule 50 in that Schedule there is inserted-


12 Oct 2010 : Column 270

"50A(1) The returning officer shall give public notice of the total number of votes given for each political party together with the number of rejected ballot papers under each head shown in the statement of rejected ballot papers and return this information to the Clerk of the Crown.

(2) The Clerk of the Crown shall determine the allocation of top-up seats in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, by applying the D'Hondt formula to the total aggregated top-up votes in each of the four parts of the United Kingdom, as declared by each and every returning officer in that part.".'.

Amendment 221, in schedule 6, page 144, line 29, at beginning insert-

'Constituency ballot'.

Amendment 222, page 144, line 39, at end insert-

'Top-Up ballot

Vote for one political party only. Put no other mark on the ballot paper, or your vote may note be counted'.

Amendment 12, in clause 8, page 7, line 9, at end insert-

'(5A) In subsection (4) the words are inserted at the end-

"and each such report shall also provide for multi-member constituencies of three members, stating the name by which they recommend that each such area should be known, and for the additional member system as provided for in the Scotland Act 1998, as close as possible to 57 per cent. to be allocated for constituency representatives and the remaining seats to be allocated for closed party lists.".'.

Amendment 13, in clause 16, page 13, line 3, at end insert-

'(1A) Section ( The single transferable vote system: amendments) comes into force in accordance with provision made by an order under section 6(1A).'.

New clause 3- The single transferable vote system: amendments-

'(1) Within one month of the coming into force of this section, the Minister must lay before Parliament a draft of an order amending the parliamentary elections rules as set out in Schedule 1 to the 1983 Act so as to provide for a system of a single transferable vote in multi-member constituencies.

(2) An order under subsection (1) above may make any amendments to primary or secondary legislation necessary to give effect to the use of the single transferable vote in the United Kingdom parliamentary elections.

(3) An order under subsection (1) may not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.'.

New clause 4- The additional member system: amendments-

'(1) Within one month of the coming into force of this section, the Minister must lay before Parliament a draft of an order amending the parliamentary elections rules as set out in Schedule 1 to the 1983 Act so as to provide for an additional member system.

(2) An order under subsection (1) above may make any amendments to primary or secondary legislation necessary to give effect to the use of the additional member system in United Kingdom parliamentary elections.

(3) An order under subsection (1) may not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.'.

New clause 5- Counting of votes on second question of referendum-

'(1) A voter votes by marking the ballot paper with-

(a) the number 1 opposite the name of the option that is the voter's first preference (or, as the case may be, the only option for whom the voter wishes to vote),


12 Oct 2010 : Column 271

(b) if the voter wishes, the number 2 opposite the name of the option that is the voter's second preference, and so on.

(2) The voter may mark as many preferences (up to the number of options) as the voter wishes.

(3) Votes shall be allocated to options in accordance with voters' first preferences and, if one option has more votes than the other options put together, that option is selected.

(4) If not, the options with the fewest votes is eliminated and that option's votes shall be dealt with as follows-

(a) each vote cast by a voter who also ranked one or more of the remaining options shall be reallocated to that remaining option or (as the case may be) to the one that the voter ranked highest;

(b) any votes not reallocated shall play no further part in the counting.

(5) If after that stage of counting one option has more votes than the other remaining options put together, that option is selected.

(6) If not, the process mentioned in subsection (4) above shall be repeated as many times as necessary until one option has more votes than the other remaining options put together, and so is selected.

(7) If no option is selected at the first stage of counting, the returning officer shall, immediately after that stage, record and make publicly available the following information-

(a) the number of first-preference votes obtained by each option;

(b) which option was eliminated;

(c) the number of rejected ballot papers.

(8) Immediately after each subsequent stage of counting, except the final stage, the returning officer shall record and make publicly available the following information-

(a) the number of votes obtained by each option at that stage;

(b) which option was eliminated at that stage;

(c) the number of votes for the option eliminated at the previous stage that were not reallocated.'.

New clause 14- Counting of votes in the referendum-

'(1) A voter votes by marking the ballot paper with-

(a) the number 1 opposite the name of the option that is the voter's first preference (or, as the case may be, the only option for whom the voter wishes to vote),

(b) if the voter wishes, the number 2 opposite the name of the option that is the voter's second preference, and so on.

(2) The voter may mark as many preferences (up to the number of options) as the voter wishes.

(3) This rule sets out how votes are to be counted, in one or more stages of counting, in order to give effect to the preferences marked by voters on their ballot papers and so to determine which options are selected.

(4) Votes shall be allocated to options in accordance with voters' first preferences and, if one option has more votes that the other options put together, that option is selected.

(5) If not, the options with the fewest votes are eliminated and that option's votes shall be dealt with as follows-

(a) each vote cast by a voter who also ranked one or more of the remaining options shall be reallocated to that remaining option or (as the case may be) to the one that the voter ranked highest;

(b) any votes not reallocated shall play no further part in the counting.

(6) If no option is selected at the first stage of counting, the returning officer shall, immediately after that stage, record and make publicly available the following information-

(a) the number of first-preference votes obtained by each option;


12 Oct 2010 : Column 272

(b) which option was eliminated;

(c) the number of rejected ballot papers.'.

New clause 15- Commencement or repeal of amending provisions: Single transferable vote-

'(1) The Minister must make an order bringing into force section (Single transferable vote system: amendments), Schedule (Single transferable vote system: further amendments) and Part 1 of Schedule 7 (Single transferable vote provisions) if-

(a) the answer "Single Transferable Vote" is selected in the referendum, and

(b) the draft of an Order in Council laid before Parliament under subsection (5A) of section 3 of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (substituted by section 8(6) (below) has been submitted to Her Majesty in Council under section 4 of that Act.

(2) If the answer "Single Transferable Vote" is not selected, the Minister must make an order repealing the single transferable vote provisions.

(3) An order under subsection (1) must bring the single transferable vote provisions into force on the same day as the coming into force of the Order in Council in terms of the draft referred to in paragraph (b) of that subsection.

(4) An order under subsection (1) may make transitional or saving provision.'.

New clause 16- Single transferable vote system: amendments-

'(1) In Schedule 1 to the 1983 Act (Parliamentary elections rules), after rule 37 there is inserted-

"How votes are to be given

37A(1) A voter votes by marking the ballot paper with-

(a) the number 1 opposite the name of the candidate who is the voter's first preference (or, as the case may be, the only candidate for whom the voter wishes to vote),

(b) if the voter wishes, the number 2 opposite the name of the candidate who is the voter's second preference,

and so on.

(2) The voter may mark as many preferences (up to the number of candidates) as the voter wishes.".

(2) After rule 45 in that Schedule there is to be inserted-

"How votes are to be counted

45A(1) This rule sets out how votes are to be counted, in one or more stages of counting, in order to give effect to the preferences marked by voters on their ballot papers and so to determine which candidate is elected.

First stage

45B(1)The returning officer shall sort the valid ballot papers into parcels according to the candidates for whom first preference votes are given.

(2) The returning officer shall then-

(a) count the number of ballot papers in each parcel;

(b) credit the candidate receiving the first preference vote with one vote for each ballot paper; and

(c) record those numbers.

(3) The returning officer shall also ascertain and record the total number of valid ballot papers.

The quota

45C(1)The returning officer shall divide the total number of valid ballot papers for the constituency by a number exceeding by one the number of members to be elected at the election for that constituency.

(2) The result of the division under paragraph (1) (Ignoring any decimal places), increased by one, is the number of votes needed to secure the return of a candidate as a member (in this Schedule referred to as the 'quota').


12 Oct 2010 : Column 273

Return of members of House of Commons

45D(1)Where, at any stage of the count, the number of votes for a candidate equals or exceeds the quota, the candidate is deemed to be elected.

(2) A candidate is returned as a member of the House of Commons when declared to be elected in accordance with paragraph 8(1).

Transfer of ballot papers

45E(1)Where, at the end of any stage of the count, the number of votes credited to any candidate exceeds the quota and, subject to paragraphs 5 and 8, one or more vacancies remain to be filled, the returning officer shall sort the ballot papers received by that candidate into further parcels so that they are grouped-

(a) according to the next available preference given on those papers; and

(b) where no such preference is given, as a parcel of non-transferable papers.

(2) The returning officer shall, in accordance with this paragraph and paragraph 5, transfer each parcel of ballot papers referred to in sub-paragraph (1)(a) to the continuing candidate for whom the next available preference is given on those papers and shall credit such continuing candidates with an additional number of votes calculated in accordance with sub-paragraph (3).

(3) The vote on each ballot paper is transferred under sub-paragraph (2) shall have a value ('the transfer value') calculated as follows-

where:

A = the value which is calculated by multiplying the surplus of the transferring candidate by the value of the ballot paper when received by that candidate; and

B = the total number of votes credited to that candidate, the calculation being made to five decimal places (any remainder being ignored).

(4) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (3)-

"transferring candidate" means the candidate from whom the ballot paper is being transferred; and

"the value of the ballot paper" means-

(e) for a ballot paper on which a first preference vote is given for the transferring candidate, one; and(f) in all other cases, the transfer value of the ballot paper when received by the transferring candidate.

Transfer of ballot papers: supplementary provisions

45F(1) If, at the end of any stage of the count, the number of votes credited to two or more candidates exceeds the quota the returning officer shall-

(a) first sort the ballot papers of the candidate with the highest surplus; and

(b) then transfer the transferable papers of that candidate.

(2) If the surpluses determined in respect of two or more candidates are equal, the transferable papers of the candidate who had the highest number of votes at the end of the most recent preceding stage at which they had unequal numbers of votes shall be transferred first.

(3) If the numbers of votes credited to two or more candidates were equal at all stages of the count, the returning officer shall decide, by lot, which candidate's transferable papers are to be transferred first.

Exclusion of candidates

45G(1) If one or more vacancies remain to be filled and-

(a) the returning officer has transferred all ballot papers which are required by paragraph 5 or this paragraph to be transferred; or


12 Oct 2010 : Column 274

(b) there are no ballot papers to be transferred under paragraph 5 or this paragraph, the returning officer shall exclude from the election at that stage the candidate with the then lowest number of votes.

(2) The returning officer shall sort the ballot papers for the candidate excluded under sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph into parcels so that they are grouped-

(a) according to the next available preference given on those papers; and

(b) where no such preference is given, as a parcel of non-transferable papers.

(3) The returning officer shall, in accordance with this article, transfer each parcel of ballot papers referred to in sub-paragraph (2)(a) to the continuing candidate for whom the next available preference is given on those papers and shall credit such continuing candidates with an additional number of votes calculated in accordance with sub-paragraph (4).

(4) The vote on each ballot paper transferred under sub-paragraph (3) shall have a transfer value of one unless the vote was transferred to the excluded candidate in which case it will have the same transfer value as when transferred to the candidate excluded under sub-paragraph (1).

(5) This paragraph is subject to paragraph 45H.

Exclusion of candidates: supplementary provisions

45H(1) If, when a candidate has to be excluded under paragraph 6-

(a) two or more candidates each have the same number of votes; and

(b) no other candidate has fewer votes, sub-paragraph (2) applies.

(2) Where this sub-paragraph applies-

(a) regard shall be had to the total number of votes credited to those candidates at the end of the most recently preceding stage of the count at which they had an unequal number of votes and the candidate with the lowest number of votes at that stage shall be excluded; and

(b) where the number of votes credited to those candidates was equal at all stages, the returning officer shall decide, by lot, which of those candidates is to be excluded.

Filling of last vacancies

45I(1)Where the number of continuing candidates is equal to the number of vacancies remaining unfilled, the continuing candidates are deemed to be elected.

(2) Where the last vacancies can be filled under this paragraph, no further transfer shall be made.

By-elections

45J(1) Where a vacancy occurs in any constituency, paragraphs (45A) to (45H) apply to the subsequent by-election.

(2) Where more than one vacancy exists in a constituency when a writ for a by-election in that constituency is moved, only one by-election is to be held for the vacant seats and this rule applies as if the number of members to be elected is the total number of seats vacant in that constituency.".'.

New schedule 1- The single transferable vote system: further amendments-


Part 1


Amendments of the parliamentary elections rules

1 Schedule 1 to the 1983 Act (parliamentary elections rules) is amended as follows. 2 For rule 18 (poll to be taken by ballot) there is substituted-
12 Oct 2010 : Column 275

"18 The votes at the poll shall be given by ballot in accordance with rule 37A below, the result shall be ascertained in accordance with rule 45A below and the successful candidate shall be declared to have been elected.".

3 In rule 29 (equipment of polling stations), in paragraph (5), for the words after "the notice" there is substituted- "Remember-use 1, 2, 3, etc... at this election-this is an election using the Single Transferrable Vote system. Put the number 1 next to the name of the candidate who is your first choice (or your only choice, if you want to vote for only one candidate). You can also put the number 2 next to your second choice, 3 next to your third choice, and so on. You can mark as few or as many choices (up to the number of candidates) as you wish. Do not use the same number more than once. Put no other mark on the ballot paper, or your vote may not be counted.". 4 In rule 44 (attendance at counting of votes), in paragraph (5), for "the candidate for whom the vote is given" there is substituted "the candidates to whom votes are allocated under rule 45A below".5 (1) In rule 46 (re-count), for paragraph (1) there is substituted-

"(1) At the time when any stage of the counting or re-counting of the votes is completed, a candidate or candidate's election agent who is then present may request the returning officer to have the votes re-counted or again re-counted in respect of any or all of the stages so far completed.

(1A) The returning officer may refuse to comply with a request under paragraph (1) above if in the officer's opinion it is unreasonable.".

(2) In paragraph (2) of that rule, after "on the completion of" there is inserted "any stage of".(3) After that paragraph there is inserted-

"(3) At any time before the declaration of the result, the returning officer may, if the officer thinks fit, have the votes re-counted or again re-counted in respect of any or all of the stages.".

6 (1) In rule 47 (rejected ballot papers), in the heading there is inserted at the end "and invalid markings".

(2) In paragraph (1) of that rule-

(a) for sub-paragraph (b) there is substituted-

"(aa) on which the number 1 has not been marked against the name of any of the candidates, or

(b) on which the number 1 has been marked against the name of more than one candidate, or",

(b) in sub-paragraph (d), for "void for unertainty" there is substituted "is marked in a way that does not indicate a clear choice as to the voter's first (or only) preference";

(c) for the words after that sub-paragraph there is substituted "shall, subject to the following provisions, be rejected as void and not counted at any stage.".

(3) For paragraph (2) of that rule there is substituted-

"(2) A ballot paper on which a number is marked elsewhere than in a proper place shall not be deemed to be void for that reason alone.

(2A) If a ballot paper is marked with the same number (other than the number 1) against the name of more than one candidate, that number (each time it appears) and any numbers after the repeated numbers shall be ignored for the purposes of rule 45A above.

(2B) If-

(a) one or more preferences are validly marked on a ballot paper, and

(b) other marks are made on the paper which do not indicate a clear intention as to the voter's next preference,

those other marks shall be ignored for the purposes of rule 45A above.


12 Oct 2010 : Column 276

(2C) A ballot paper on which the voter makes any mark which-

(a) is clearly intended to indicate a particular preference for a particular candidate, but

(b) is not a number (or is a number written otherwise than as an Arabic numeral),

(2D) In paragraph (2C) above a reference to a mark includes a reference to more than one mark.

(2E) Paragraphs (2B) and 2(C) above apply only if the way the paper is marked does not itself identify the voter and it is not shown that the voter can be identified by it."

(4) After paragraph (3) of that rule there is inserted-

"(3A) Where-

(a) any mark on a ballot paper is ignored by reason of paragraph (2A) or (2B) above, and

(b) the vote in question is not reallocated in accordance with rule 45A above, but would have been if the mark had been treated as indicating a preference for a remaining candidate,

the returning officer shall endorse the ballot paper in question with the words "not reallocated" and an indication of the stage at which the mark was ignored.

(3B) Where the returning officer endorses a ballot paper as mentioned in paragraph (3A), the officer shall add to the endoresement the words "decision objected to" if an objection is made by a counting agent to the decision.".

(5) In paragraph (4) of that rule-

(a) for sub-paragraph (b) there is substituted-

"(aa) not marking the number 1 against the name of any of the candidates;

(b) marking the number 1 against the name of more than one candidate;";

(b) for sub-paragraph (d) there is substituted-

(d) unmarked or marked in a way that does not indicate a clear choice as to the voter's first (or only) preference.".

7 (1) For rule 49 (equality of votes), and the heading, there is substituted-

"Equality of votes: which candidate to be eliminated

49(1) This rule applies to determine which candidate is eliminated under rule 45A(3) above in a case where-

(a) there are two or more candidates with fewer votes than the others but an equal number to each other, or

(b) there are three or more candidates, or remaining candidates, and they all have an equal number of votes to each other.

The candidates with an equal nunber of votes to each other are referred to in this rule as "the tied candidates".

(2) The candidate to be eliminated where there has been a previous elimination is-

(a) whichever of the tied candidates was allocated the fewer or fewest votes in accordance with voters' first preferences, or

(b) if that fails to resolve the tie, whichever of them had the fewer or fewest votes after the next stage of counting (if any),

and so on.

(3) Where there has been no previous elimination, or where there has been a previous elimination but the tie is not resolved under paragraph (2) above, the returning officer shall forthwith decide by lot which of the tied candidates is to be eliminated.

Equality of votes: which candidate to be elected

49A (1) This rule applies to determine which candidate is elected under rule 45A(4) or (5) above in a case where there are only two remaining candidates and they have an equal number of votes.

(2) The candidate to be elected is-


12 Oct 2010 : Column 277

(a) whichever of the remaining candidates was allocated the more votes in accordance with voters' first preferences, or

(b) if that fails to resolve the tie, whichever of them had the more votes after the next stage of counting (if any),

and so on.

(3) Where the tie is not resolved under paragraph (2) above, the returning officer shall forthwith decide by lot which of the remaining candidates is to be elected.".

8 In rule 50 (declaration of result), in paragraph (1), for sub-paragraphs (a) to (c) there is substituted-

"(a) declare the number of votes obtained by each candidate (including any reallocated in accordance with rule 45A above), starting with the candidate with the fewest and proceeding in order to the candidate with the most;

(aa) declare which is the candidate who (in accordance with that rule is) elected;

(ab) declare the stage at which each eliminated candidate was eliminated and the stage at which the elected candidate was elected;

(b) return the name of the elected candidate to the Clerk of the Crown;

(c) give public notice of the name of the elected candidate, the number of rejected ballot papers under each head shown in the statement of rejected ballot papers, the number of votes allocated to each candidate in accordance with voters' first preferences, and for each subsequent stage of counting-

(i) the name of the eliminated candidate;

(ii) the number of votes reallocated to each of the remaining candidates, and

(iii) the number of votes of the candidate eliminated at the previous stage that were not reallocated.".

9 In rule 53 (return of forfeiture of candidate's deposit), in paragraph (4), for the words after "is completed," there is substituted "the number of first preference votes obtained by the candidate is found to be not more than one twentieth of the total number of first-preference votes obtained by all the candidates.".10 (1) In rule 61 (deceased independent candidate wins), in paragraph (1), for "the majority of votes is given to the deceased candidate" there is substituted "the deceased candidate would have been elected (in accordance with rule 45A above) had he not died".

(2) In paragraph (2) of that rule, for sub-paragraph (a) there is substituted-

"(a) declare the number of votes obtained by each candidate (including any reallocated in accordance with rule 45A above, starting with the candidate with the fewest and proceeding in order to the candidate with the most,

(aa) declare that the deceased candidate would have been elected had he not died,".

(3) For sub-paragraph (c) of that paragraph there is substituted-

"(c) give public notice of the number of rejected ballot papers under each head shown in the statement of rejected ballot papers, the number of votes allocated to each candidate in accordance with voters' first preferences, and for each subsequent stage of counting-

(i) the name of the candidate eliminated,

(ii) the number of votes reallocated to each of the remaining candidates, and

(iii) the number of votes of the candidate eliminated at the previous stage that were not reallocated.".

11 (1) For rule 62 (deceased independent candidate with equality of votes) there is substituted-
12 Oct 2010 : Column 278

"62(1) This rule applies in relation to an election mentioned in rule 60(1) above.

(2) The reference in rule 45A(3) above to the candidate with the fewest votes, in a case where-

(a) there are two or more candidates with fewer votes than the others but an equal number to each other, and

(b) one of them is a deceased candidate,

shall be taken as a reference to the deceased candidate.

(3) The reference in rule 45A(4) or (5) above to the candidate with more votes than the other remaining candidates put together, in a case where-

(a) there are only two remaining candidates,

(b) those two candidates have an equal number of votes, and

(c) one of them is a deceased candidate,

shall be taken as a reference to the candidate other than the deceased candidate.

(4) Where paragraph (2) or (3) above applies, it applies in place of rule 49 or 49A above.".

12 (1) The Appendix of forms is amended as follows-

(2) In the Form of Front of Ballot Paper-

(a) for "VOTE FOR ONE CANDIDATE ONLY" there is substituted-

"Put the number 1 next to the name of the candidate who is your first choice (or your only choice, if you want to vote for only one candidate).

You can also put the number 2 next to your second choice, 3 next to your third choice, and so on.

You can mark as few or as many choices (up to the number of candidates) as you wish.

Do not use the same number more than once.".

(b) the numbers on the left-hand side are omitted, together with the vertical rule separating them from the particulars of the candidates.

(3) In the directions as to printing the ballot paper-

(a) in paragraph 2(a), for "the direction to vote for one candidate only" there is substituted "the directions beginning "Put the number 1 next to the name of the candidate who is your first choice" and ending "Do not use the same number more than once."";

(b) in paragraph 2(b), for the words "the vertical rules separating those particulars from the numbers on the left-hand side and the spaces on the right" there is substituted "the vertical rule separating those particulars from the spaces on the right".

(4) In the Guidance for Voters-

(a) for paragraph 1 there is substituted-

"1 When you are given a ballot paper go to one of the compartments. Put the number 1 on the ballot paper in the box to the right of the name of the candidate who is your first choice (or your only choice, if you want to vote for only one candidate).

You can also put the number 2 in the box to the right of the name of the candidate who is your second choice, the number 3 in the box to the right of the name of the candidate who is your third choice, and so on. You can mark as few or as many choices (up to the number of candidates) as you wish. Do not use the same number more than once.",

(b) in paragraph 2, the words "Vote for one candidate only." are repealed.


Part 2


Amendments of other provisions of the 1983 Act

13 The 1983 Act is amended as follows.14 (1) In section 66 (requirement of secrecy), in subsection (2)(b), for "the candidate for whom any vote is given on any particular ballot paper" there is substituted "how any particular ballot paper has been marked".
12 Oct 2010 : Column 279

(2) In subsection (3)(b) and (c) of that section, for "the candidate for whom" there is substituted "how".

(3) In subsection (3)(d) of that section, for "the name of the candidate for whom he has or has not" there is substituted "how he has".

(4) In subsection (4)(d) of that section, for "the candidate for whom any vote is given on any particular ballot paper" there is substituted "how any particular ballot paper has been marked".

(5) In subsection (5) of that section, for "the candidate for whom" there is substituted "how".

(6) Subsections (7) and (8) of that section are repealed.

(7) The amendments made by this paragraph do not apply to a local government election (within the meaning given by section 204(1) of the 1983 Act) in Scotland.

15 In section 113 (bribery), in subsection (7)-

(a) for "this section the expression" there is substituted "this section-

(a) the expression";

(b) at the end there is inserted-

"(b) a reference to voting or refraining from voting, in the case of a parliamentary election, includes a reference to marking or refraining from marking preferences on the ballot paper;

(c) a reference to the vote of any voter, in the case of a parliamentary election, includes a reference to the marking of a voter's preferences on the ballot paper.".

16 In section 114 (treating), at the end there is inserted-

"(4) Subsection (7)(b) of section 113 above has effect for the purposes of this section as it has effect for the purposes of that one."

17 In section 115 (undue influence), at the end there is inserted-

"(3) Subsection (7)(b) of section 113 above has effect for the purposes of this section as it has effect for the purposes of that one.".

18 (1) In section 117 (savings as to parliamentary elections), in subsection (2)(b), for "to record his vote for any particular candidate" there is substituted "to vote in any particular way".

(2) In subsection (2)(c) of that section, for "recording his vote for any particular candidate" there is substituted "voting in any particular way".

19 (1) In section 139 (trial of election petition), in subsection (6) the words "the parliamentary elections rules or", in both places, are repealed.

(2) After that subsection there is inserted-

"(6A) If the petition relates to an election conducted under the parliamentary elections rules and it appears that there is an equality of votes between any candidates (a 'tie')-

(a) rule 49, 49A or 62 of those rules (whichever is relevant) shall apply for the purposes of the petition;

(b) where under rule 49 or 49A the tie fails to be resolved by lot-

(i) any decision made by lot by the returning officer under that rule shall, in so far as it resolves the tie, be effective also for the purposes of the petition, and (ii) in so far as the tie is not resolved by such a decision, the court shall resolve it by lot.". 20 In section 165 (avoidance of election for employing corrupt agent), after subsection (3) there is inserted-

"(3A) In the case of a parliamentary election-

(a) a vote shall be deemed in accordance with subsection (3) above to be thrown away only to the extent that it indicates a preference (whether a first preference or any other) for the person who was under the incapacity, and


12 Oct 2010 : Column 280

(b) any number on the voter's ballot paper indicating a subsequent preference shall be treated as reduced by one.".

21 In section 166 (votes to be struck off for corrupt or illegal practices), in subsection (1), for the words from "election there shall" to the end there is substituted "election, then on a scrutiny-

(a) there shall be disregarded any preference for the candidate (whether a first preference or any other) indicated by a voter who is proved to have been so bribed, treated or unduly influenced, and

(b) any number on the voter's ballot paper indicating a subsequent preference shall be treated as reduced by one.".

22 In section 199B (translations etc of certain documents), in subsection (6), for the words "in the case of a parliamentary election or" in paragraph (a) there is substituted-"in the case of a parliamentary election, must have printed the following words both at the top and immediately below the list of candidates:

"Put the number 1 next to the name of the candidate who is your first choice (or your only choice, if you want to vote for only one candidate).

You can also put the number 2 next to your second choice, 3 next to your third choice, and so on.

You can mark as few or as many choices (up to the number of candidates) as you wish.

Do not use the same number more than once.",

(aa) in the case of".


Part 3


Amendments of other enactments

Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (c. 41)23 In section 3A of the 2000 Act (four Electoral Commissioners to be persons put forward by parties), in subsection (7), for "votes cast for" there is substituted "first-preference votes obtained by".24 In section 1 of the 1986 Act (Parliamentary constituencies) in subsection (1), for "a single member" there is substituted "no fewer than three members except for constituencies named in Schedule 2, rule 6 of this Act"'.

Amendment 224, in title, line 3, after 'vote', insert 'plus'.

Amendment 35, in title, line 3, after 'system', insert

'or the single transferable vote system or the additional member system'.

Amendment 139, in title, line 3, leave out

'if a majority of those voting in the referendum are in favour of that'

and insert

'or the single transferable vote system if either option is selected in the referendum'. '

Caroline Lucas: I am pleased to move the amendment that stands in my name and those of the hon. Members for Clacton (Mr Carswell) and for Great Grimsby (Austin Mitchell). I welcome the fact that the Committee is at long last debating the possibility of a referendum on electoral reform, but it is crucial that the public choose the voting system, not the politicians. We do not often have referendums in this country, and now that we are planning to have one, the least that we can do is give people a real choice on their ballot papers. It is hugely disappointing that AV is the only alternative to first past the post in the Bill. As a result, the Bill fails to live up to the promise of genuine reform and of re-engaging people with the political process.


12 Oct 2010 : Column 281
10.15 pm

Amendment 7 is about giving people a real choice of electoral systems, because it is essential that the referendum question is not set up by the politicians to promote their favoured system. Of course, I have my views about which system would be preferable-the Green party advocates the additional member system as the fairest-but our amendment 7 is not about promoting a favourite system; it is about giving the public the options and allowing them to make their own choice. Rather than simply offering a narrow choice between first past the post and the alternative vote system, our amendment widens the question, so that in addition to the AV option, voters are given the opportunity to express a preference for one of the other main voting systems in elections for UK institutions.

There are two parts to our proposed question. The first part asks people whether they want a change from the current, first-past-the-post system; and for those who do, the second part offers the options of the alternative vote, the additional member system, and the single transferable vote, to be listed in order of preference. Our amendment is needed, because it is contradictory for the coalition to be talking about electoral reform while seeking to offer little more than a Hobson's choice, between AV and first past the post.

Sir Alan Beith: I have every sympathy with the hon. Lady's amendment and the argument that she is putting forward. However, before she starts to attack the coalition, she must surely recognise that there is no possible coalition of parties that we could join in carrying through the present House of Commons a referendum that would allow people the choice of the single transferable vote, desirable though that would be, and her one-Member party in this House certainly cannot achieve that objective.

Caroline Lucas: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but perhaps I am more optimistic than he is. I hope that the power of argument might just wake up our fellow Members.

Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that what we are doing is repairing the damage done by the gutlessness of the Liberal Democrats? They did not have the guts or the integrity to include in the referendum a question on a system of proportional representation, which they always purported to believe in. We are allowing the people to speak out.

Caroline Lucas: Many millions of people in this country will be looking at what some Members do in the Committee this evening, and they will be looking with a degree of perplexity, given that what we hear many Members might do runs counter to what was in their manifestos.

Mr Stewart Jackson: I thank the hon. Lady for giving way; she is being very generous. If there was a groundswell of popular support for the single transferable vote, surely the Liberal Democrats, just after the election but before they entered the coalition Government, would have been able to persuade the Labour party to push through primary legislation to deliver the single transferable vote. However, that was not possible because, quite frankly, the single transferable vote is not generally supported by the voting public of this country.


12 Oct 2010 : Column 282

Caroline Lucas: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, but in fact there are plenty of opinion polls, conducted by the Electoral Commission and others, that show that there is a majority for electoral reform in this country. We are not saying that that necessarily means STV; we are saying that we should let the people decide. It is not right that politicians in this House should basically stitch up the question and then try to present people with a Hobson's choice between two things, neither of which, as we know, people prefer.

Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (Con): Given that it is not every day of the week-indeed, it is not every year-that we send out millions of ballot papers to millions of homes asking people to decide whether they want to change the electoral system, does my hon. Friend not agree that the least that we can do is allow them a proper choice, from the full spectrum, regardless of our personal preferences? Rather than confronting them with the politicians' choice, we should allow them a full range of options.

Caroline Lucas: I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman. In a way, it is pretty arrogant for Members to assume that the population do not have a view and cannot make a sensible choice. Are we really saying that first past the post is such a strong and popular system that it justifies such a narrow question? Recent history suggests that it is not. It is no accident that following the collapse of the Soviet Union, not one of the eastern or central European countries emerging from years of totalitarian rule chose the Westminster model. Similarly, is AV really the only system that we should consider if we want to change?

I acknowledge that the alternative vote system has a number of advantages over first past the post and that, in some respects, it represents a small step forward. The Electoral Reform Society has conducted a thorough analysis of AV, and I share its assessment that there are some positives. Those positives include the ability of voters to record a sincere first preference, thus reducing the need for tactical voting; the widening of the political choice available to the elector; and the disincentives that the system offers for parties to pursue core vote strategies that ignore the wishes of the majority of the electorate.

Mr MacNeil: Does the hon. Lady agree that AV, which the Liberal Democrats have accepted and which they imagine to be a halfway house between first past the post and STV, is not a halfway house at all? I contend that it does not go even a quarter of the way towards STV-probably not even a tenth or a twentieth or a fiftieth of the way. It probably does not go even 1% of the way towards STV. The Liberals have been bought off more than cheaply.

Caroline Lucas: I agree. The alternative vote represents a small step forward, but we should be very clear that it is not a proportional system. We owe it to the electorate to put before them a choice that includes a genuinely proportional system. The debate is wider than whether we should choose AV or first past the post. The relative merits of AV as against first past the post cannot be said to cover all the arguments in a modern debate about real electoral reform.


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Sir Alan Beith: The hon. Lady is making a constructive contribution, but she must face the fact that, if she were successful in carrying her amendment, there would not then be a majority in the House in favour of a referendum at all. That is surely not an outcome that she would want.

Caroline Lucas: I find that incredibly disappointing and defeatist- [ Interruption. ] Well, it might be said that, had the terms of the coalition agreement been different, and had different priorities been at the top of the list, we might not have found ourselves in this situation. I believe that the role of politicians in this House is to do what we believe to be right, and I believe that it is right to give people this choice. That is what will be respected by the electorate.

Mr Carswell: Does my hon. Friend not agree that there is something rather bizarre about the position of the Liberal Democrats? They have been arguing for STV for as long as anyone can remember, but, in order to cook up a coalition, they have abandoned their reformist credentials and are now happy to settle for something that is not even their preferred option.

Caroline Lucas: I agree, and I very much hope that Liberal Democrat Members will follow us through the Lobby to support this amendment. Even if we do not win the vote tonight, this could become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If some Members are not willing to put their bodies where their mouths are, and are not prepared to fulfil the promises in their manifesto, we cannot be surprised that people lose faith in the political process. This amendment is about restoring faith in the political process; it is about trusting the electorate and delivering on promises to treat them a bit better.

My primary concern as we consider the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill is that it is the public who should choose our voting system, not the politicians. That ought to be a principle around which we can all agree. We can argue about whether to adopt AV-plus, first past the post, the single transferable vote or the additional Member system, but the principle should be that it is for the people to decide.

Mr Jackson: Does not the real-world experience of the single transferable vote system show that deals are made by politicians in smoke-filled rooms after elections, after the people have had the opportunity to make their choices? One has only to look at the anecdotal evidence from such systems across the world to see that, in reality, the ordinary voter, having cast their ballot, is shut out from the business of governance. That is the result of the STV system.

Caroline Lucas: That is an argument against STV, but I keep stressing that what we are talking about is the right of the public to choose the system. When they have that right, we can have the debate about whether STV does or does not lead to decisions being made in smoke-filled rooms. The hon. Gentleman's assertion is rather ironic. He is concerned about what goes on in smoke-filled rooms, and perhaps he does not want the public to make any decisions on this. He does not want the fresh air of public opinion to be waved over our debate tonight, but that is exactly what should happen. That is why the public should decide.


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Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab): Does the hon. Lady agree that, if we are going to spend £100,000 at a time when money is short, we should at least give the British people a full choice of options, rather than a limited one? That would represent better value for money. People have already had the opportunity to vote for a referendum on AV, when the Labour party put that proposal before them at the election. Sadly, we did not win the election, and there is no groundswell of support for a referendum on AV.

Caroline Lucas: I absolutely agree. It is also important that we do not underestimate the public. Some say that voters cannot understand the different voting systems, but that is a very patronising position and does not bear scrutiny. Voters regularly manage to make the best of first past the post, for example, despite the fact that it fails to deliver seats that reflect the votes cast.

All the systems that appear in the question we suggest should be on the ballot paper have advantages and drawbacks, but none are so mind-bending that the public cannot be trusted to debate and, crucially, choose between them. We need to inject some health and optimism back into our political system, and we can do that if we give people the chance to have a real debate and a real choice. It should not be about whether or not there is sufficient agreement in this House for putting it to the public; it should be absolutely automatic that the public have the right to choose.

Ian Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab): If the Tories and their allies were interested in genuine reform, would they not have produced a draft constitutional reform Bill? We could all have discussed it and consulted the public on it. Is not the reality that this is a shabby political deal between the Tories and their allies on the Government Benches to fix political advantage? The only party that knows it would benefit from an alternative vote system is the Liberal Democrat party

Caroline Lucas: Unfortunately, I think that the hon. Member is right that this was a shabby political deal done in the very smoke-filled rooms that the coalition complain about.

Our political system is sick, I argue, and getting this question right provides the only road to real recovery. The system is sick because swing voters in just a tiny number of seats effectively decide who is going to run this country. It has resulted in the targeting of funding at marginal constituencies and voters in most other parts of the country being sidelined, if not ignored.

Mr Carswell: My hon. Friend is being incredibly generous in giving way. Does she agree that if the amendment were accepted and people could vote for a single transferable vote system with multi-member constituencies, they would effectively be returning to the Disraelian idea of three-Member boroughs, which is a profoundly Conservative idea?

Caroline Lucas: Well, I thank the hon. Member, but I perhaps agree with that slightly less than with some of his other more constructive interventions.

Let me return to my final point, which is about more than what kind of voting system we select, as it is about reconnecting with the public. It is not long ago that we went through the expenses scandal and gained the sense that people were very disillusioned with this House and
12 Oct 2010 : Column 285
wanted MPs to clean up politics-whatever their preference of voting system. That is why I hope colleagues will support this amendment to depoliticise the question and give voters the option to express their real views on what electoral system we should have.

Parliament came to seen with contempt by many, because it was seen to be acting in its own interests and not those of the people whom it was supposed to serve. If this amendment is rejected, people will reach the same conclusion once again-that Parliament is acting in its own interests rather than trusting the public to make a decision. A stitched-up referendum that denies people a real choice smacks of the old politics. Tonight we have an opportunity to create a healthy system, based on respect for the electorate and the creation of a real debate on a real question. I urge hon. Members to support amendment 7.

Mr Harper: I want to speak to Government amendments 230, 231 and 232, which relate to the question, and I note that similar provisions were tabled by members of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, so their names have been added to the Government amendments. For every referendum held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the Electoral Commission has a statutory duty to consider the wording of the proposed referendum question and to publish a statement of its views on its intelligibility. Where the question is contained in a Bill, this duty is triggered when the Bill is introduced and the report has to be submitted as soon as reasonably practicable after that. The commission completed the process for the referendum on the current voting system on 30 September.

10.30 pm

Most people whom the Electoral Commission consulted felt that the existing question, as proposed by the Government in the Bill, was neutral and not biased. Many considered it to be clear, direct, concise and straightforward. Others, however, found it difficult to understand and confusing. The commission has therefore suggested that the question should be changed to read:

The proposal for a two-sentence question, rather than the one-sentence question proposed by the Government, was based on evidence from the commission's public opinion research, which involved focus groups and interviews with members of the public as well as input from experts on plain language. The redraft avoids some of the slightly complex language in the original question, abbreviates some of the terminology, and splits the one long sentence in the original into two shorter ones.

Mr Jenkin: If my hon. Friend studies the focus group research conducted by the Electoral Commission, he will see that what voters found most confusing about the question was the term "alternative vote". Voters have very little idea what that is. Now the Electoral Commission has told us that it will produce literature explaining what it is to voters, but would it not be better
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to give the alternative vote system its proper name, which is, in fact, "optional preferential voting with instant run-off"? That would explain exactly what it is, leaving no ambiguity.

Mr Harper: I expected my hon. Friend to make the point that he has just made, because I have seen his amendment to that effect. Although what he says is accurate, I do not think that putting the question in that way would lead to an improvement-

Mr Jenkin: It might put people off.

Mr Harper: That may well be the case, and my hon. Friend and I might find that a very happy outcome, but when the Government drafted the original question we were very clear about the fact-which was confirmed by the Electoral Commission's research-that it was neutral and not biased. The Government's position is that we very much want the referendum, but are neutral about the outcome. The two coalition parties are not neutral about it, but the Government are: that is, Ministers are neutral in their capacity as Ministers. I am glad that the commission found that our question was neutral and not biased.

However, my hon. Friend has hit on a good point: the need to ensure that voters know what they are voting on. We thought it important to include in the Bill the details of the specific form of alternative vote that would be brought into effect in the event of a "yes" vote in the referendum. My hon. Friend characterised it correctly as an optional preferential system. No doubt the Electoral Commission will conduct some education in a neutral and unbiased way. The two campaigns will also explain not just the mechanics of the system, but the outcomes and potential impact of introducing it or retaining the existing system. I am convinced that by the end of the campaign, voters will be in no doubt about the consequences, and will therefore be able to make a very clear decision on 5 May next year.

George Eustice (Camborne and Redruth) (Con): I think that the Electoral Commission's wording is a big improvement. It removes words such as "adopt", which had biased connotations in the original. I have studied the commission's research. According to one of its findings,

There is clearly a great deal of confusion about AV, which will actually lead to more rather than fewer hung Parliaments.

There is a second problem. In fact, AV is simply a second-rate version of first past the post. Let me make another suggestion about the wording. Perhaps it should refer to a "one person, one vote" system, which is what we have now, versus a multiple voting system in which some people receive more votes than others-which is basically what AV is.

Mr Harper: I think that my hon. Friend is anticipating the referendum campaign. Tempted though I am, he would not expect Ministers to be drawn into a debate about the merits of different electoral systems at the
12 Oct 2010 : Column 287
Dispatch Box. That will take place when we have the referendum. However, he made a good point about the need to engage in a good debate about the issue. The Electoral Commission did say in its research findings that some members of the public had trouble with language when it came to the use of the words "Parliament" and "House of Commons". Thinking back to the previous debate and the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles), we in this House should consider members of the public who do not take an enormous interest in, or spend a great deal of time on, these issues, important though we think they are. We need to make sure we address those people, and not just ourselves.

It is very important that the referendum question should be clear and simple to understand. The Government welcome the commission's helpful report. I have read it carefully and, based on the evidence that the commission presented, we have decided to accept its redrafted question.

Sir Alan Beith: I must, on the grounds of language simplicity, draw my hon. Friend's attention to the Welsh version in Government amendment 231. Although my understanding of Welsh is not as wide and deep as I would like it to be, I have not often seen the abbreviation "DU" used for "United Kingdom" in Welsh. I therefore wonder whether it would be at all familiar to most voters, and whether it would not be better to spell out "United Kingdom" in Welsh.

Mr Harper: I am very interested in my right hon. Friend's views. Having a great deal of respect for the Welsh language, and being frank about my inability to speak it, I did not want to abuse it by reading out the Welsh version of the question. I did not intend to do that, and I am not going to do so. I have taken the precaution of talking to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales. He is a Welsh speaker, and he has consulted a number of colleagues. We do not think there is a problem with the language. The Electoral Commission did highlight one potential problem to do with the yes/no question and words such as "should" and "should not" in Welsh. It felt that there was a risk but that, on balance, this was an improvement. We have taken its analysis on board and we have accepted its drafting rather than changing it, because if we were to change it we would have to go through another process of assessing the accessibility.

The Government consider that the new version is no less neutral than the previous one. We do not think it alters in any way the choice that the question puts to the public, but we do think it is clearer and easier to understand, which is why we have accepted it. Our amendments therefore insert the new question into clause 1 in English and Welsh, and it is replicated in English only in the form of the ballot paper, which is addressed in schedule 2. This is supported by members of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, and I hope the House will support it as well.

Let me make a point about amendment 7, to which the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) spoke. It refers back to the point to which the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) drew attention. They were both right that many Liberal Democrat colleagues support either the single transferable vote or some other form of proportional system, whereas most Conservative party colleagues do not. The nature
12 Oct 2010 : Column 288
of a coalition Government is that we have to reach a compromise, however, and the compromise we have reached is that Conservatives have agreed to put the choice to the public and Liberal Democrats have had to accept that although they have a vote on a system that they prefer to first past the post, that is not everything they would have hoped for. It has been rightly said that there is not a majority in this House in favour of putting a referendum question to the public on proportional representation, and I think Liberal Democrat colleagues have been entirely sensible in reaching a compromise-as, I think, have Conservative colleagues as well. We on the Government Benches are clear that we want to put this question to the public. I agree with the hon. Lady that the public, not politicians, should choose the voting system. We are going to give that choice to the public and see whether they want to stick with the existing system or change it.

Caroline Lucas: I do not quite understand how the Minister can say he is happy for the public to make the decision at the same time as closing down the very options that the public will make that decision on. I think that, again, we have to say that this is about trusting the public. It is not about what the Government or the Lib Dems want, or what any individual Members want. It is about giving the public the right to choose.

Mr Harper: The hon. Lady has chosen a selection of things to put in front of the public in her amendment; it is just a different choice from that proposed by the Government. It is no more or less the choice of the public, however. Unless we were to have a ballot paper that listed every single possible electoral system in the entire universe that has ever been thought of, it will always, to some extent, be a choice designed by politicians.

Caroline Lucas rose -

Mr Harper: Let me just finish responding to the previous intervention. Those on this side of the House have made a judgment, we are going to put that question to the public, and members of the coalition parties will then campaign vigorously. I think I have detected that Opposition Members too will be on both sides of the debate. We will have that battle and the public will make a decision.

Caroline Lucas: I just wish to explain that the options we have proposed for the ballot paper are not ones that we picked out of a hat at random. We were trying to create a set of questions that were most likely to be acceptable to the House by, for example, including both AV, because that was what was in the original question, and those existing electoral systems already used in some form or another in the United Kingdom. We were not proposing a random set of choices. Of course we cannot give 100 different options, but we can propose those voting systems that people in this country are more or less familiar with, perhaps because they have voted for the Welsh Assembly or the Scottish Parliament. There is a rationale behind what we are doing, and this is not a random set of options.

Mr Harper: It sounds as if the hon. Lady and those on the Government Benches are doing the same thing; we are putting to the House amendments that we think will get support. If she wishes to test hers and we test
12 Oct 2010 : Column 289
ours, we will see which of us has made the right judgment about which will get the support of the majority of Members in this House.

Mr MacNeil: Surely it is better to give the public a choice of three or perhaps four electoral systems that are commonly used throughout the United Kingdom, rather than a very narrow restricted choice of two, which seem to have been the subject of some sort of agreement in the smoke-filled rooms of this new coalition. Surely the public should be trusted and allowed to choose for themselves.

Mr Harper: Opposition Members seem awfully obsessed by smoke-filled rooms. Given that this House voted in the previous Parliament to ban smoking in public places, I have not detected a lot of smoke in any of the rooms where we have had our discussions.

As I said, choices will be put to the House this evening; if the opinion of the House is tested, the House can make a judgment about which of the questions it finds most acceptable. I hope that hon. Members will support the amendments that I have proposed, which the Government have tabled. The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion is perfectly free to test hers too, and we will see where the balance of opinion in the House lies. Given that we have only 18 minutes left and we are dealing with a number of amendments, I shall draw my remarks to a close and allow the debate to continue.

Chris Bryant: May I say first to the Minister that one of the things that has crept into the contributions made from that Dispatch Box of late is a differentiation of a Minister as a Minister from a Minister when he or she is not acting in a ministerial capacity in some way? That is a dangerous concept to begin to adumbrate, because Ministers have to act, to some degree, with collective responsibility. Once that starts to fall apart, government starts to fall apart.

Mr Harper: I made it clear that the coalition agreement says that there will be, and the Government's policy is for there to be, a referendum on the voting system, offering a choice between first past the post and the alternative vote. The Government do not have a view on the outcome, and that has been made clear. The coalition agreement explicitly says that the coalition parties will campaign on different sides, so I do not think that there is any risk to collective responsibility.

Chris Bryant: I understand the Minister's point, but I just want to help him avoid becoming too much like the Deputy Prime Minister, because we would not want him to morph into a Liberal Democrat-I am sure he would not want that either. [Interruption.] The Deputy Prime Minister started with this concept of a personal idea on the situation in Iraq, so I just gently say that to the Minister.

The one thing on which I wholeheartedly agree with the Minister is what he said about Government amendments 230, 231 and 232 on changing the precise wording of the question. I think that the Electoral Commission has done a good job. It has looked at this and given us a better question, and we wholeheartedly support that. However, that is not the real point. The real difficulty was pointed out by the hon. Member for
12 Oct 2010 : Column 290
Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), who said that the bit that the Electoral Commission discovered that most people did not fully understand is what "alternative vote" means. I am not going to go down the route of supporting his amendment 244, which proposes

because I do not think that his is an unbiased question and I do not think it is intended to be helpful. It was presented with the usual finish and cheek with which he presents his arguments to the House.

10.45 pm

The speed with which the proposals were introduced, and the lack of consultation between all the political parties in the House, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee and the wider community, mean that it is more difficult to be confident that by May next year there will be a full information campaign on the precise nature of the alternative vote system.

I happen to support AV. I was selected as the candidate in Rhondda by the Labour party under AV, although as it happens I won on first preferences. I happen to be one of the very few Members of Parliament who, in 2005, was elected by more than 40% of not just those who voted, but all the electorate, including those in Rhondda who did not vote. I none the less support AV, and I shall vote in favour of it in a referendum. I just wish that the referendum was not being held next year, and that there was not such a rush. This is one case where the Minister has perhaps got the better of the Deputy Prime Minister, in that the Minister's plans will almost certainly see the Deputy Prime Minister's desire to implement the alternative vote system fail.

I want to say a couple of words about the "preferendum"-a term first coined, I think, in New Zealand-proposed in the amendment of the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas). I confess that I am surprised that not a single Liberal Democrat-not even a Back Bencher-has put their name to the amendment. I recall that the current Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said on 2 February 2010:

The Liberal Democrat election manifesto pledged to change politics and abolish safe sex-safe seats- [Laughter.] That was a Freudian slip. It pledged to abolish safe seats

It continued:

Of course, the Deputy Prime Minister himself said:

He wanted a proportional system. I think it is a sadness that the great, grand Liberal Democrat party is no longer- [Interruption.] Well, it is certainly large-

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of the Leader of the House of Commons (Mr David Heath) rose -


12 Oct 2010 : Column 291

Chris Bryant -as the hon. Gentleman is about to show.

Mr Heath: Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that we did introduce such amendments, and that he and his colleagues voted against them?

Chris Bryant: Then why is the hon. Gentleman not presenting those amendments tonight? That would be the honest, decent and sensible thing to do. Instead, he is proposing a timorous beastie of a Bill-something that, in his honest heart, he knows he cannot possibly defend to his voters on the basis of his party's manifesto.

Let me raise a few problems that I see with the proposal of the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion. First, there are complexities relating to how the amendment would work with regard to the spending limits set both in the Bill and in other legislation affecting referendums. That is not least because the legislation, as it stands, presumes that there will be a yes-no answer. In other words, it presumes that there will be two sides to the argument, rather than three, four or-as there might be in this case-five. Secondly, the amendment makes the assumption that one should arrive at the decision by use of AV; that is laid out in new clause 3. That gives rise to a problem. Finally, there is the problem that although the hon. Lady has presented some options, she has not presented all the options that might be available, as the starred amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Austin Mitchell) makes clear.

I believe that it is not time for this timorous beastie of a reform Bill, which was cobbled together not so much to bring about proper reform in the country as to keep people in government. It has not been properly consulted on, properly thought through, or given the proper time to allow it to be successful. [ Interruption.] The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of the Leader of the House of Commons is sitting there on the Front Bench. He is now using arguments that I used, in which I was not very confident, when I sat on the Government Benches. It is about time he stopped using the argument about hypocrisy and brass neck when he is the one, despite the fact that we cannot see the difference between his shoulders and his head, with the largest brass neck of all in the Chamber.

Let us not hear any more about new politics from the Government. This is a shoddy little Bill, not a braveheart root and branch reform-a Bill built on narrow party advantage cobbled between the two Ministers. Nasty, incongruous deals have been pushed through by tough whipping, as we have seen this afternoon-everything that the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr Heath) used to condemn when he sat on the Opposition Benches. The only reason there were not any smoke-filled rooms for Ministers to sit in to cobble together their deals is that we voted for the legislation to ensure that people's health improved in this country. He did not.

Mrs Laing: The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) made a sincere speech in support of her amendment 7, but it was wrong because she argued about giving more power to the people. Her amendment has nothing whatever to do with standards in the House of Commons. It would cause confusion and lead to the loss of the two most important factors that any electoral
12 Oct 2010 : Column 292
system ought to depend on-clarity and certainty. They are present in first past the post, but they certainly are not in amendment 7.

Mr Carswell: I helped draft the design of the ballot paper under this amendment. Can the hon. Lady explain which bits of it she thinks her constituents would be unable to understand?

Mrs Laing: I did not say that my constituents would not be able to understand. My constituents are very intelligent, and I am sure that they would be able to understand. I will not go into a long explanation at this point in the evening. I am merely saying, and I stick to it, that if amendment 7 were to become part of the Bill, the referendum would bring about a system-any of the systems in amendment 7-that would lack clarity and certainty. Any voting system ought to have clarity and certainty.

Clarity is what amendment 230 is all about. I am pleased to say that the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, of which I am a member, looked at the report of the Electoral Commission. The commission consulted extensively on the wording of the question, as the Minister has told us this evening. The Select Committee supported the suggestions of the Electoral Commission. The wording in amendment 230 is much clearer. It brings about clarity and certainty when a question is put to the electorate, as it should be. Therefore, members of the Select Committee tabled this amendment. We were delighted to discover that the Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister also supported the amendment, and I hope that the Committee will support it this evening.

Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby) (Lab): What the hon. Lady thinks about the system is largely irrelevant. Amendment 7 is designed to allow the people to speak out-to put before them the choice of a preferential system. I have to point out to my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) that this was exactly the wording of the New Zealand referendum. In 1993 it was decided that people did not want the first-past-the-post system, and they were given a choice about what system they wanted to replace it. In that referendum, almost 60% of people said that they wanted the additional member system. Only 6.6% said that they wanted the alternative vote.

Chris Bryant: My hon. Friend is right, but New Zealand is a unicameral system, and I have argued and campaigned in the House for many years in favour of a second Chamber that is elected, not appointed, on a proportional system. We should have a Bill about the whole of constitutional reform, rather than picking off bits and pieces one by one.

Austin Mitchell: Why does my hon. Friend not see that it is daft to give the second Chamber a better representative system than the first Chamber? It is important that the first Chamber has a system that gives us representation according to the way people vote. That is the essence of proportional representation; that is all we are trying to include in the referendum.

Mr MacNeil: Having just heard the words uttered by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), it is a fact that for the electors here, we effectively have a unicameral system, because they do not vote for those who enter the Chamber down the corridor.


12 Oct 2010 : Column 293

Austin Mitchell: Exactly-that is the point. What we want to do in the amendment is quite simple. We want to give the people the choice that the Liberal Democrats did not have the strength or the guts to give them. The Liberal Democrats are in favour of a system to allow people to vote in a referendum on the alternative vote, which is largely irrelevant-it is a system that allows people to list candidates in one constituency in order of preference-because they hope to benefit from the fact that they are everyone's second preference, but the first preference of very few people.

Simon Hughes (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (LD): As far as I recollect, in New Zealand there were two votes in sequence: one on whether people wanted to have a change, and a separate vote on which change to have. The hon. Gentleman must also recognise what my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) said: in the House, given the way in which the Labour and Tory majorities have voted, there is not likely to be a majority, whatever others think, for a wide proportional system. There is a majority for progress, but not for what we might want. We should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Austin Mitchell: I know that there are a thousand excuses for gutlessness, but that is just another one. The Liberal Democrats are going to have to live on a diet of their own words for the next few months. It was the leader of their party who called the alternative vote "a miserable little compromise" before the election. Now it is central to Liberal Democrat policy.

The hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes) is mistaken about the referendum in New Zealand. The first referendum, which I have discussed, gave the exact alternatives that would be given in our Bill. I want to make the case for proportional representation. We are working in a system that has become a multi-party one. Fewer people are voting for the two main parties, whose share of the vote has gone down from about 90% to about 60%. A multi-party system is in the process of being born, with nationalists, including Welsh nationalists, Liberal Democrats, the UK Independence party, and all the rest of it. We are trying to fit that within the constraints of a first-past-the-post system that works well only with two parties. [ Interruption. ] I forgot to mention the Greens-I apologise, but that is another indication of our multi-party system.

We cannot fit the burgeoning multi-party system into a first-past-the-post system, which works only with two parties. The question is still why did the Liberal Democrats, in pushing for a referendum-I congratulate them on securing one-not give people the real choice between a preferential system, an alternative vote and first past the post, as that is the choice that they have to make? I would want them to choose the preferential system, but it is not up to us. It is not my views that are important, or those of Government Members-it is the views of the people. That is all that we are asking: let us consult the people on a system, and let them have their say. Every Member here thinks that the system that elected them must be the best system in the world, but that is not important. We are prejudiced witnesses, and we should give the people the power to speak. That is all that our amendment does.

Mr Mark Williams: May I reiterate to the Committee and to the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Austin
12 Oct 2010 : Column 294
Mitchell) that the Liberal Democrat party still believes in STV, has done so for years, and will continue to do so? However, the reality is that the advances that the Bill represents will be jeopardised if we adopt the amendment on STV. The agreement before us was made on the basis of a referendum on AV. Without that, we will not secure a referendum, so there would be no referendum at all. That is the reality of the debate. We still believe in STV, and this is a staging post to something towards which our party will still work, but there is no majority in the House for STV. Without that majority, there will be no referendum.

Mr MacNeil: We have just heard the Liberal Democrats say that they still believe in STV. I wonder whether that belief stretches 5 or 10 yards to the Lobby. I would wager that it does not go very far at all.

In the moments that are left, I want to speak to an amendment that I tabled.

11 pm

Debate interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

The Chair put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83D), That the amendment be made.


The Committee divided: Ayes 17, Noes 346.
Division No. 68]
[11.00 pm



AYES


Dakin, Nic
Durkan, Mark
Evans, Jonathan
Hollobone, Mr Philip
Hosie, Stewart
Llwyd, Mr Elfyn
Long, Naomi
Lucas, Caroline
MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan
McDonnell, Dr Alasdair
Ritchie, Ms Margaret
Robertson, Angus
Smith, rh Mr Andrew
Weir, Mr Mike
Whiteford, Dr Eilidh
Williams, Hywel
Wishart, Pete
Tellers for the Ayes:

Austin Mitchell and
Mr Douglas Carswell
NOES


Adams, Nigel
Afriyie, Adam
Aldous, Peter
Alexander, rh Danny
Amess, Mr David
Andrew, Stuart
Arbuthnot, rh Mr James
Bacon, Mr Richard
Bagshawe, Ms Louise
Baker, Norman
Baker, Steve
Baldry, Tony
Baldwin, Harriett
Barclay, Stephen
Barker, Gregory
Barwell, Gavin
Bebb, Guto
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr Henry
Benyon, Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Jake
Bingham, Andrew
Birtwistle, Gordon
Blackman, Bob
Blackwood, Nicola
Blunt, Mr Crispin
Boles, Nick
Bone, Mr Peter
Bottomley, Peter
Bradley, Karen
Brake, Tom
Bray, Angie
Brazier, Mr Julian
Brine, Mr Steve
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr Jeremy
Bruce, Fiona
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Buckland, Mr Robert
Burley, Mr Aidan
Burns, Conor
Burns, Mr Simon
Burrowes, Mr David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Cable, rh Vince
Cairns, Alun
Campbell, Mr Gregory
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, Mr Alistair
Carmichael, Neil
Chishti, Rehman
Clappison, Mr James
Clark, rh Greg
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Clegg, rh Mr Nick
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Coffey, Dr Thérèse
Collins, Damian
Colvile, Oliver
Cox, Mr Geoffrey
Crabb, Stephen
Crockart, Mike
Crouch, Tracey
Davey, Mr Edward
Davies, David T. C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Glyn
Davies, Philip
de Bois, Nick
Dinenage, Caroline
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Dodds, rh Mr Nigel
Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.
Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen
Dorries, Nadine
Doyle-Price, Jackie
Drax, Richard
Duncan, rh Mr Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain
Dunne, Mr Philip
Ellis, Michael
Ellison, Jane
Ellwood, Mr Tobias
Elphicke, Charlie
Eustice, George
Evans, Graham
Evennett, Mr David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr Mark
Foster, Mr Don
Fox, rh Dr Liam
Francois, rh Mr Mark
Freeman, George
Freer, Mike
Fullbrook, Lorraine
Fuller, Richard
Garnier, Mr Edward
Garnier, Mark
Gauke, Mr David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr Nick
Gilbert, Stephen
Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl
Glen, John
Goldsmith, Zac
Goodwill, Mr Robert
Gove, rh Michael
Graham, Richard
Grant, Mrs Helen
Gray, Mr James
Grayling, rh Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Griffiths, Andrew
Gummer, Ben
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Halfon, Robert
Hames, Duncan
Hammond, rh Mr Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Matthew
Hancock, Mr Mike
Hands, Greg
Harper, Mr Mark
Harrington, Richard
Harris, Rebecca
Hart, Simon
Harvey, Nick
Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan
Hayes, Mr John
Heald, Mr Oliver
Heath, Mr David
Heaton-Harris, Chris
Hemming, John
Henderson, Gordon
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, rh Nick
Hinds, Damian
Hoban, Mr Mark
Hollingbery, George
Holloway, Mr Adam
Hopkins, Kelvin
Hopkins, Kris
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, Mr Gerald
Howell, John
Hughes, Simon
Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy
Huppert, Dr Julian
Hurd, Mr Nick
Jackson, Mr Stewart
James, Margot
Javid, Sajid
Jenkin, Mr Bernard
Johnson, Gareth
Johnson, Joseph
Jones, Andrew
Jones, Mr David
Jones, Mr Marcus
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kelly, Chris
Kennedy, rh Mr Charles
Kirby, Simon
Knight, rh Mr Greg
Kwarteng, Kwasi
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mark
Lansley, rh Mr Andrew
Latham, Pauline
Laws, rh Mr David
Leadsom, Andrea
Lee, Jessica
Lee, Dr Phillip
Leech, Mr John
Lefroy, Jeremy
Leslie, Charlotte
Letwin, rh Mr Oliver
Lewis, Brandon
Lewis, Dr Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian
Lidington, Mr David
Lilley, rh Mr Peter
Lloyd, Stephen
Lord, Jonathan
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary
Main, Mrs Anne
Maude, rh Mr Francis
May, rh Mrs Theresa
Maynard, Paul
McCartney, Jason
McCartney, Karl
McCrea, Dr William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick
McPartland, Stephen
McVey, Esther
Menzies, Mark
Mercer, Patrick
Metcalfe, Stephen
Miller, Maria
Mills, Nigel
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew
Moore, rh Michael
Mordaunt, Penny
Morgan, Nicky
Morris, Anne Marie
Morris, David
Morris, James
Mosley, Stephen
Mowat, David
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, rh David
Murray, Sheryll
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr Brooks
Newton, Sarah
Nokes, Caroline
Norman, Jesse
Nuttall, Mr David
O'Brien, Mr Stephen
Offord, Mr Matthew
Ollerenshaw, Eric
Opperman, Guy
Osborne, rh Mr George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr James
Parish, Neil
Patel, Priti
Paterson, rh Mr Owen
Pawsey, Mark
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Percy, Andrew
Perry, Claire
Phillips, Stephen
Pickles, rh Mr Eric
Pincher, Christopher
Poulter, Dr Daniel
Prisk, Mr Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr John
Raab, Mr Dominic
Randall, rh Mr John
Reckless, Mark
Redwood, rh Mr John
Rees-Mogg, Jacob
Reevell, Simon
Reid, Mr Alan
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr Laurence
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rudd, Amber
Ruffley, Mr David
Russell, Bob
Rutley, David
Sanders, Mr Adrian
Sandys, Laura
Scott, Mr Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shannon, Jim
Shapps, rh Grant
Sharma, Alok
Shelbrooke, Alec
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr Keith
Skidmore, Chris
Skinner, Mr Dennis
Smith, Miss Chloe
Smith, Henry
Smith, Julian
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Nicholas
Soubry, Anna
Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline
Spencer, Mr Mark
Stephenson, Andrew
Stevenson, John
Stewart, Bob
Stewart, Iain
Stewart, Rory
Streeter, Mr Gary
Stride, Mel
Stuart, Mr Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Sturdy, Julian
Swales, Ian
Swayne, Mr Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr Hugo
Syms, Mr Robert
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Timpson, Mr Edward
Tomlinson, Justin
Tredinnick, David
Truss, Elizabeth
Turner, Mr Andrew
Tyrie, Mr Andrew
Uppal, Paul
Vaizey, Mr Edward
Vara, Mr Shailesh
Vickers, Martin
Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa
Walker, Mr Charles
Walker, Mr Robin
Wallace, Mr Ben
Walter, Mr Robert
Ward, Mr David
Watkinson, Angela
Weatherley, Mike
Webb, Steve
Wharton, James
White, Chris
Whittaker, Craig
Whittingdale, Mr John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, rh Mr David
Williams, Mr Mark
Williams, Roger
Williams, Stephen
Williamson, Gavin
Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob
Wollaston, Dr Sarah
Wright, Jeremy
Wright, Simon
Yeo, Mr Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Zahawi, Nadhim
Tellers for the Noes:

Mark Hunter and
James Duddridge
Question accordingly negatived.
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